Born in Gabrovo visits Credo Bonum

After the great success in Gabrovo in 2017, on March 27, the documentary exhibition Born in Gabrovo was shown at CREDO BONUM Gallery in Sofia. It presents the life of the Yavashev family – Tsveta, Vladimir and their three sons in Gabrovo.

From March 27 until April 14, 2018, visitors had the opportunity to learn more about the early years of young Hristo, see his childhood photos alongside those of his brothers – the actor from cinema and theater, Anani Yavashev, and the chemical engineer, inventor of “Veroto” (brandname for a dishwashing liquid) Stefan Yavashev.

photos: Rosina Pencheva © 2023 Christo and Jeanne-Claude Center, Gabrovo

The exhibition Born in Gabrovo is a kind of “time capsule” in which the story is told by Evgeniya Atanasova-Teneva. These texts also include Christo’s memories of his time in Gabrovo, recorded in a series of interviews she conducted with him over the years.

The exhibition showcases the homes where the family lived, the schools Hristo attended, his childhood games and art activities, as well as the Kachorite area where he spent summers and returned to as a student at the Academy before leaving for Prague.

The family factory Chemistry and Industry was the place where young Hristo, together with his two brothers, grew up and played near the objects that would become emblematic of his works – the fabrics and barrels. Hristo’s friends remember his childhood games of trappers and Indians, his imagination and energy that captivated everyone around him. There seems to be no difference for him between play and art. The drawing class led by teacher Popov, who prepared the “Gabrovo colony” for the Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia – as Popov himself called the group of talented future artists – Hristo Yavashev, Iva Hadzhieva, Dragan Nemtsov, and Dora Boneva, is also presented. The exhibition also includes the story of the family theater organized by Hristo, his brothers, and their friends for the public – with adapted texts, miniature scenography within a frame, and cut-out figures for actors. An original copy of the self-published magazine Bulgarian Theater, edited by Hristo (and an editorial board of friends), was provided for the exhibition by musician Geo Kukudov.

In 1947, the Chemistry and Industry factory was nationalized, and a year later, so was the Yavashev family’s home, which was located in part of the building. The father, chemical engineer Yavashev, was falsely accused of being a “saboteur,” having destroyed socialist production (a drunken worker mishandled and ruined several rolls of fabric during his shift), and was sentenced to one year in prison in Veliko Tarnovo. He was released in 1950, and the Yavashev family left Gabrovo.

The exhibition concludes with the Kachorite area in Gabrovo, which Christo fondly remembers in the interviews with Evgeniya Atanasova-Teneva. There, he played with his brothers and drew trees, houses, portraits of people – hundreds of drawings.

Kachorite is the place where the young student at the Academy of Fine Arts returned and spent a whole month before leaving Bulgaria. Kachorite was the brightest childhood memory to which Christo loved to return. It remained an untouched symbol of absolute freedom, the thirst for which defines his life and creativity.

The exhibition was organized by the Museum of Humor and Satire, the Municipality of Gabrovo, and Our Greater Gabrovo Association.